Various Artists

Jazz & Blues Piano: 1934-1947

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This fascinating collection has odds and ends from a 13-year period, all of which feature very interesting piano players. None is more obscure than Sam Nowlin, whose entire recorded output consists of his two solo piano numbers from 1934, "So What" and "Change." On "Change," he quotes Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist," throws in a Eubie Blake lick, and makes the song sound a bit like Hoagy Carmichael's "Judy." Who was he? Nowlin is not even listed in the Brian Rust jazz discographies despite his talents. Gene Rodgers is perhaps best known for his four-bar piano introduction on Coleman Hawkins' famous recording of "Body and Soul." He recorded "Was It a Lie" and two versions of "Three Minutes of Blues" while in London in 1936. Euday Bowman, the composer of "12th Street Rag," recorded that song in 1938 on a beaten up piano. Some famous pianists are represented by selections that had been left off of prior collections including Jelly Roll Morton ("Honky Tonk Music, No. 2"), Cassino Simpson ("After You've Gone"), and James P. Johnson ("Liza" and "Pork and Beans"). An unissued performance by Clarence Profit is here ("Down Home"), as are Dorothy Donegan's two earliest piano solos and a duet by pianist Tut Soper and drummer Baby Dodds on which Dodds gets happily carried away. Wrapping up this collection are one number from a radio broadcast and six previously unissued performances by blues and boogie-woogie pianist Dan Burley. Jazz & Blues Piano is both historically significant and a very enjoyable listen.

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